Watch the Noise, and fellow Yahoo! experts Brandon Funston and John Murphy, answer your pressing lineup questions for a full hour every NFL Sunday on the Emmy nominated webcast "Fantasy Football Live" at 9 AM PT/11 AM CT/Noon ET.
My liver has already filed for divorce.
And my lips have yet to press against the wide-mouth of an ice cold aluminum can …
For those or you who are unaware, I live in the burgeoning community of Champaign, Illinois, home to one of the world's most prestigious education factories, the University of Illinois. Naturally, as a graduate, my feelings for Fighting Illini football are rabid, vehement and downright obsessive. It's safe to say my affections for Rashard Mendenhall are equivalent to those expressed in this space for Brandon Jacobs. How could 6.5 yards per carry not inspire a man-crush?
After years of unbearable torment, Ron Zook has injected bowl optimism into a program once tainted with ineptitude. At 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play, Illinois is in the thick of a conference title race and is on the brink of qualifying for its first postseason appearance since 2001.
For someone who's used to perpetual losing it's almost unfathomable.
This week, the Sultan of Smug, Lloyd Carr, and his nationally-ranked Michigan Wolverines travel to Champaign to clash with my Illini under the prime-time lights.
And all I have to say is, let the tailgating begin.
Amidst the grilled processed meats, jovial conversations with friends and beanbag tosses, massive quantities of hops and barley fit for a scene out of "Animal House" will be consumed. Expect inebriated snapshots of a certain fantasy columnist canoodling with unattractive college coeds in Larry Eustachy-Hugh Grant style to surface on unpopular sports blogs Monday morning.
Inevitably, hanging out for ten-plus hours with owners from my local 12-team keeper league will lead to numerous trade discussions, which brings me to my point. When chugging adult beverages with league mates it's important to carve out a swapping strategy prior to cracking open that first beer.
If you're ever placed in a similar situation, here is a six-pack of trade tips to help you find common ground on a blockbuster deal:
1. Understand tolerance levels
This is a vital tip to master when trying to reach an agreement at a house party, bar or tailgate. Too much brew decreases your chances of a handshake. Too little brew also decreases your chances of a handshake. In the negotiation process, it's wise to find your adversary's buzz medium. Then take advantage of it. With his/her guard down, a risk may become irresistible. However, make sure you're aware of your trading partner's alcohol alter-ego. No mean drunk would let you walk away unscathed from a Fred Taylor/Vincent Jackson for Adrian Peterson offer.
2. Be arrogant yet open-minded
Have an attitude that mixes the hubris of Bill Belichick with the tearful compassion of Dick Vermeil. When presenting an offer act like it isn't a necessity. Something like, "How about Shaun Alexander for Larry Fitzgerald? If you're not interested – no problem. I'm just sending out feelers for a potential wideout upgrade." Expressing desperation will only cause a deal to collapse. Or, much worse, will make you powerless. Whenever negotiating a trade make sure you, as George Costanza would say, have "hand."
3. Don't low ball
As the old adage says, "You only get one chance to make a first impression." Trying to hornswoggle someone will only produce distasteful feelings. Be courteous. Just remember that the purpose of your initial offer is to make the opposition ponder long and hard. To determine what's fair market value for a player, peruse the "recently traded" tool under the "Tools" tab in your Y! league module. Of course, make sure to do this prior to the festivities.
4. Talk up your players
This is where the used car salesman in all of is showcased. Highlight a player's strengths, not their weaknesses. In the case of Alexander, mention his two upcoming matchups against the rancid Rams, reflect upon the glory days of 2005 and how you read a recent glowing report that he's on the verge of turning things around. The art of embellishment is key here. You want your trade target to feel like their making the heist of the century. Accentuate the positives and shrug off the negatives.
5. Be willing to mortgage your future
This rule only applies for those involved in keeper leagues. Draft picks are an excellent way to sweeten a deal. Remember, every year is full of late-round or waiver wire surprises. Heck, look at this season's hidden gems: Derek Anderson, Brian Griese, Sammy Morris, Derrick Ward, Shaun McDonald and Bobby Engram are just a few free agent unknowns that have developed into trustworthy contributors. You can afford to surrender future considerations for that one final piece of the championship puzzle. Just make sure not to dangle too much.
6. Write down deals
Because heavy imbibing always impairs memory, it's of the utmost importance to write down a deal and file it away in a safe place. To eliminate any confusion or disagreement over whether or not a trade was actually consummated, make sure to have both parties and a witness John Hancock a document with the aforementioned transaction recorded on it. That way, it's legally binding even if your hippocampus is wiped clean.
I-L-L Noisers …
Here are this week's flames, lames and stars of video games:
Each week the Noise highlights five somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined for flame madness or lame sadness. In honor of waiver wire hero Ron Dayne's legendary four-game dominance late in '06, the "Shocker Special" segment spotlights one player owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues who is poised for one-week greatness. The Noise, an accountability advocate, will tally his hits and misses and post the results, whether genius or moronic, each week using the scoring system listed at the end of the lames segment. You could say, his stones are larger than Rodney Harrison's.
*BNRK = Big Noise weekly position ranking
*Y!% = Percentage owned in Yahoo! leagues through 10/13
|Week 7 Fantasy Flames|
|Lowdown: When your opponent's secondary is coming off a game in which they reanimated a fossilized dinosaur – 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde – your chances of having a banner performance increases tenfold. Over the past three weeks, the Cardinals have conceded 237.3 passing yards and 2.0 air strikes per game to signal callers, equal to the ninth-most fantasy points allowed. 'Zona corners Terrance Holt and Roderick Hood are supple arm-tacklers who are susceptible to yielding more yards than necessary. Look for Campbell, who has sported a sparkling 6:2 TD:INT split in his past four, to again rely upon Chris Cooley given the persistent, nagging injuries to Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. With news that Arizona's best pass rusher, Karlos Dansby, is expected to miss the next 3-4 weeks with a sprained knee, Campbell will have an abundance of time to execute downfield. Activate him in all 12-team leagues and consider him a top-12 QB play.|
|Fearless Forecast: 239 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception|
|Lowdown: Jones emerges from the Lions bye as the featured back now that "Taco" Tatum Bell has finally finished his chicken gordita transformation. As the Lions exclusive back last season, Jones averaged 20.2 touches per game and should compile similar pigskin totes against a Tampa Bay defense that is vulnerable against the run. Although the Bucs have been nearly impenetrable through the air they have surrendered 149 total yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game to opposing plowshares, equal to the ninth-most fantasy points allowed to backs. Because the Tampa Bay Cover 2 can be exposed in the short-field, anticipate Mike Martz to feature the ultra-versatile Jones noticeably in the Lions' aerial gameplan. In six games, the Bucs have rendered 5.7 receptions per game to running backs, the sixth-most in the league. This will be the first of many quality starts for Jones. Have faith in him as a No. 2 in all 12-team formats.|
|Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 69 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 28 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: The Donut Destroyer will punch a hole into a Houston defense that has yielded 5.8 yards per carry, 141.3 rushing yards and 1.0 end zone plunges per game to enemy backs in their past three contests – good for the fourth-most fantasy points allowed. White's brittle backfield partner Chris Brown is expected to practice sparingly, if at all, this week due to a sprained ankle. If he is unavailable, July buzz back Chris Henry could shoulder 8-12 carries in the Titans time-share with White netting another 20-plus touches. Vince Young's quad injury is improving, but he remains a giant question mark for Sunday. If he rests, stegosaurus Kerry Collins will get the start – terrific news for White. The Titans hippos up front have moved mountains this season and should dominate versus a green Texans D-line that has crumbled of late. White will likely post unspectacular yardage totals, but should be a dependable 10-plus fantasy point play. Insert him into your lineup as a No. 2 in all 12-team leagues.|
|Fearless Forecast: 23 carries, 76 rushing yards, 1 catch, 8 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: Tell grandma to dust off the "We Like Ike" campaign buttons – Hilliard is set to have a monumental day. Stealthily, Hilliard has been a consistency king this season, tallying 4.5 receptions and 60.5 yards per game. More surprising, he's been Jeff Garcia's favorite receiver this season, targeted 6.0 times per game, slightly higher than Joey Galloway (5.3 TGT/G). Unlike Galloway, Hilliard is Garcia's underneath receiver who relishes dirty work. Given the loathsome Lions incompetence in defending the pass – they've allowed three 100-yard games and five touchdowns to wideouts this year – Ike should net his first TD spike of the season. Snatch him off waivers in all 12-team and deeper PPR leagues and confidently start him as a No. 3.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 81 yards, 1 touchdown|
|Lowdown: Up until last week, Brown's season was about as exciting as listening to a three-hour Alan Greenspan lecture on the sub-prime mortgage financial crises. Against a laughable Jets secondary, Brown caught a season-high six passes for 89 yards. Clearly he's Donovan McNabb's third option behind Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis, but you've got to admire his matchup this week. The Bears once-brutalizing defense has become abominable. Significant injuries to Mike Brown and Nathan Vasher have forced safety Danieal Manning to play out of position. Throw in Adam Archuleta's inability to tackle a wounded walrus and it clearly explains why Chicago has yielded the third-most fantasy points to wideouts in their past three. If there was ever a week for Brown, who currently ranks 78th in fantasy points per game among receivers in standard scoring leagues, to finally register a touchdown, this is it.|
|Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 74 yards, 1 touchdown|
|Shocker Special of the Week|
|Lowdown: Kevin could remind us of another Faulk, Marshall, in an expanded role. The Boston Herald reported on Tuesday that goal-line gremlin Sammy Morris will miss at least one game with an undisclosed chest injury. As for the perpetually elusive Laurence Maroney, his status for this week’s game is still shrouded in mystery. At this juncture, I’m confident Maroney will start as Bill Belichick noted he was “close” to playing in Dallas last week. Regardless, Faulk is expected to see plenty of action against a detestable Dolphins defense that has yielded 146.3 rushing yards to backs since Week 3. Given Faulk’s exceptional hands and lightning-quick feet, Belichick will install a number of sweeps and screens to maximize his offensive potential. Even with Maroney in the backfield, he should accumulate 12-15 touches and is a savvy flex start in 12-team and deeper leagues – especially those that score for receptions.|
|Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 54 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 36 receiving yards, 1 touchdown|
|Week 7 Fantasy Lames|
|Lowdown: This week, Garrard, nicknamed the "Beer Truck" while at East Carolina, will not be a purveyor of the fantasy High Life. The Colts vaunted Cover 2 is a buzzsaw for any quarterback. Over their past 16 contests, no signal caller has thrown for more than 240 yards against the Colts. And in their past nine, they've rendered only one multi-TD passer. Garrard is the essence of efficiency, distributing the ball judiciously to his targets. He has completed 66.2 percent of his passes and has posted an impeccable 6:0 TD:INT mark. However, the legs of Maurice Jones-Drew, not Garrard's arm, will be exercised frequently by Jack Del Rio. Last year MJD scored twice and racked 166 rushing yards against Indy at home. Sure, the trench play of the Colts has greatly improved (89.8 YPG to RBs), but the Oompah Loompah, not Garrard, will dazzle on Monday night.|
|Fearless Forecast: 179 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 18 rushing yards|
|Lowdown: Versus the merciless Pats, Brown, the man who'll be responsible for blinding dozens of innocent Miami beachgoers, will give the Noise false hope of winning his Speedo-wearing bet. The horribly average Fins O-line will have difficulties creating running lanes against the Pats stiff 3-4 defense. New England has not allowed a rusher to eclipse the 75-yard mark on the ground this season and has yielded a microscopic one rushing touchdown in six games. Brown's recent torrid streak – 185.3 total yards per game and five touchdowns in his past four – has come against maladroit defenses (NYJ, Oak, Hou, and Cle). He'll likely compile adequate numbers in garbage time, but the punishable Pats will dethrone fantasy's best back for at least a week. It's impossible to bench him in 12-team leagues, but baby-pool shallow formats should employ more favorable options.|
|Fearless Forecast: 22 carries, 67 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 26 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Marion Barber III||RB||29||99.9|
|Lowdown: Not even Barber, the hardest running bulldozer in the biz, can escape the voracious appetites of man-eaters Pat and Kevin Williams. The Williamses are Grimaces up front who devour backs like Big Macs. On the year, Minnesota has surrendered a suffocating 2.8 yards per carry and 59.4 yards per game to runners, equal to the second-fewest fantasy points allowed. The Vikes are helpless against the pass (304.6 YPG), which means a Tony Romo aerial bonanza is likely. Barber could find success through the air, but his chances of sniffing the end zone are minimal. Minnesota has not allowed a rushing TD this season and the normally consistent scoring Barber has failed to cross the chalk in three straight. This may seem like an obvious choice, but there are many obtuse owners who will refuse to demote him.|
|Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 45 yards, 3 receptions, 21 yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: The probable one-game loss of Kurt Warner to torn ligaments in his non-throwing elbow is a significant blow to Fitzgerald and teammate Anquan Boldin's short-term value. Recent acquisition Tim Rattay looked disoriented, discombobulated and dispirited against a susceptible Carolina secondary, completing just 50 percent of his passes while throwing three picks. Since Week 2, the Redskins boast the best defense against wide receivers in fantasy. No wideout has yet to reach the century mark against them in five games and they've surrendered just one touchdown to a wideout this year. On paper, Fitzgerald's Sasquatch frame is a daunting task for any secondary. But Sean Taylor and company have the athleticism to give him headaches. If Warner is miraculously healed by the hand of God, Fitzgerald's chances of a deplorable day obviously diminish. Still, the matchup is intimidating and an unpleasant effort seems likely. Of course, keep him active in all 12-team leagues, but prepare yourself for disappointment.|
|Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 46 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns|
|Lowdown: Bowe's efforts will be more frightful than lining up next to a crazed Raiders fan at a Coliseum urinal. As their name suggests, the Raiders are ruthless pursuers of the pass, who've finally recaptured the magic that made them the most feared secondary in the league last year. Over their past four, Oakland has yielded the third-fewest fantasy points to receivers and in their past two have allowed a paltry eight catches for 89 yards to wideouts. After a rough start, spelling nightmare Nnamdi Asomugha has done a masterful job in shutting down venerable weapons, limiting his assignments to 2.3 receptions and 36.3 yards per game in his past three. Larry Johnson was unstoppable against Oakland last season (144.5 YPG, 3 TD in two games), which means the ground game will be emphasized. Bowe, coming off his worst game since Week 2, will again be stymied.|
|Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 43 yards, 0 touchdowns|
Upset you don't have a forum to express your disdain for drafting Carnell Williams? Do you question why on earth you're not a fantasy expert? This is the place for you to vent your thoughts, tirades and frustrations. Can you bring the noise?
Brad, I almost cried I laughed so hard at your Greg Olsen/Power of Grayskull reference! Oh man! That's classic stuff! Don't let the haters bring you down. I bet for every one of them there are ten of us that enjoy your work. Keep Bringin' the Noise!
– Brian, Philadelphia, PA
Noise: For those who missed it, here is the uncanny resemblance once again. He-man. Greg Olsen. Eerily similar, huh? My only question is who bears a striking resemblance to Skeletor? Eddie George, perhaps?
I love to read the weekly rantings of these doofballs who write in and complain that your picks cost them a win in their league. It is truly hilarious! I guess it's the fantasy version of Darwin's Theory of Evolution – if you are too stupid to make your own picks then you probably won't survive to make the playoffs. Your column is great entertainment. Keep up the good work!
– Gary, Pasadena, MD
Noise: Gary, I swear that many of the people that wag a finger at me in hindsight must be living, breathing Cro-Magnons. Kind of like this Upper Paleolithic man who could be cast as an extra on ABC's flop "Cavemen" …
It's not fair to the people of Yahoo! that you get paid to screw up their fantasy rosters. Sure, it's easy for me to occasionally glance over your garbage and dismiss damn near everything you say because I know better, but what about all those people who actually come to you for advice? About the issue of injury, I knew Brandon Jacobs would get hurt and wrote it in my own fantasy column, and anyone who didn't know it shouldn't be paid to write about fantasy. Experts should be able to forecast injuries. That's what they get paid for, especially when it's an oversized monster like Jacobs. Your Flame percentage is in the 40s this week, which is no better than a blind monkey with a computer. How about bringing some useful information from now on instead of just Noise?
– Nick, Cedar Falls, IA
Noise: For those unfamiliar with Nick, he's a strongly opinionated fantasy columnist who writes for the University of Northern Iowa – AKA Kurt Warner-U – student newspaper. Apparently, he's rather envious of my position. Because Nick eloquently described my advice as "garbage" and suggested that, as a fantasy analyst, I should possess some innate clairvoyance; I decided to investigate his archive to see if his assessments are flawless. Well, surprise, surprise. Nick is no Nostradomus either.
In his August 30 article titled "Waking up in the fantasy win column" he precisely projected that:
"Once Jerious Norwood gets 20 touches a game (and he will), there's no telling what he could do, but we can speculate. I can see J-No going for 1,100 yards rushing with 8-10 touchdowns to go with 40 catches for 450 yards and 4 or 5 more scores. All told, 1,550 total yards and 13 touchdowns are well within Norwood's reach. Trust me on this one: You want to be the guy who takes Norwood "too early" in the fourth or fifth round instead of the guy who just misses him in the sixth."
Norwood is currently on pace for 1,000 total yards and 3 touchdowns
Yes, Bobby Petrino has criminally misused Norwood this season (9.2 touches/game). And sure, his dazzling 67-yard scamper against the Giants last week was nothing short of spectacular. But as long as Warrick Dunn is healthy and Petrino roams the sidelines in Atlanta, J-No will continue to rank alongside such celebrated names as Najeh Davenport, Earnest Graham and DeShawn Wynn. I'm sure those individuals who willingly followed Nick's advice and passed on Adrian Peterson, Randy Moss, LaMont Jordan or Marshawn Lynch in favor of Norwood in the fourth or fifth round are adoring fans.
Nick, welcome to the world of predicting the unpredictable. You are just as much of a blind monkey as any other fantasy writer on the Internet – including me.
STOP YELLING ON THE (EXPLETIVE) SIT/START VIDEOS!!!! I GOTTA TRY TO IGNORE YOU WHILE WAITING TO HEAR WHAT FUNSTON HAS TO SAY.
– Phil, Boston, MA
Noise: Phil, put down the Red Bull and slowly remove your finger from the caps lock key. Listen, I have a debilitating disease called Voice Immodulation Syndrome. The same one over six Americans are afflicted with each year, including, most famously, Jacob Silj. Sorry, but it's very difficult for me to CONTROL THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE.
You are a fantasy football cancer. I was hoping and praying you wouldn't say anything about Kurt Warner in one of your columns now that you've put the Evans Hex on him. Oh, and I'm starting Holt this week. Chances are he will have his best week of the season. This week is going to be Cincinnati DEF against the Browns all over again …
– Mangan, Pearl River, NY
Noise: The tenacious cancer that is "Noiseloma" did indeed infect another hapless victim. However, reading that you started Holt, who tallied his worst fantasy effort of the season, gave me great satisfaction. Hey, even some days the sun shines on this dog's ass.
Now Brad, I'm not saying you are bad at your job. I enjoy your well written columns and get a laugh out of them. They have also offered some good advice, some of which I have taken. However, do you think you are cursed in your player advice? Is Brad Evans the SI cover jinx of fantasy? Although I am not officially labeling you the Kiss of Death, I am beginning to wonder. I took your Kurt Warner advice (and I admit, no one, not even Mr. Stubble himself could have foreseen Julius Peppers mangling his elbow). But this isn't the first time your big time, much hyped, "go get this guy off your waiver wire" guy has had some unforeseen pitfall come his way.
– Michael, Berlin, WI
Noise: I'm quite possibly the Madden, SI, King Tutankhamen and Rosemary's Baby curses all rolled into one. So far the population of the Big Noise village of the damned has swelled to four – Warner, Michael Pittman, Josh McCown and, for three weeks, Brandon Jacobs. This week, I'm clutching a Voodoo doll that bears a likeness of up-and-comer Lance Moore. Will the calamity continue?
Is it me or does Shaun Alexander look like he's lost a step? I'm a huge Alabama fan and would love to see this guy rebound, but isn't it time we call him what he is?
– Adam, Chattanooga, TN
Noise: If we call him washed up, then yes. Too often this season Alexander has looked like a brontosaurus trapped in a tar pit. He has hit the hole unassertively and continues to prove that physically he's on the wrong side of 30. When Mike Holmgren repeatedly turned to minimally used fullback Leonard Weaver in an attempt to mount a comeback, at that moment, it became apparent Alexander's value had fallen precipitously.
This week, Alexander begins a stretch of five favorable contests (StL, at Cle, SF, at Chi, at StL) against four teams that have surrendered a combined 124.9 rushing yards and 0.74 rushing touchdowns per game to tugboats this season. Consider his Week 7 tilt against the rancid Rams a make or break game. If he fails to eclipse the century mark or doesn't find pay dirt, jump ship immediately. However, if he plays admirably and continues the resurgence through Week 12, think about selling high. Seattle tangos with trench warriors Philadelphia, Arizona, Carolina and Baltimore from Weeks 13-16 – a thankless task for any running back. In total, the four formidable foes have allowed 86.5 rushing yards and 0.43 ground scores per game to opposing tugboats this year.
What Frat Pack member do you resemble the most? Luke Wilson. You both have extremely annoying voices to go along with extremely annoying faces. And you both suck at your "professions."
– Hazem, Flint, MI
Noise: Does that mean Funston's Frat Pack alter-ego is Frank "The Tank?" Honestly, it's an honor to be compared to "The Godfather." To promote our fantasy football product next season, Yahoo! should throw a "Noise-a-Palooza" bash.
SILENCE THE NOISE CHALLENGE
Each week one lucky aspiring fantasy prognosticator is chosen to go toe-to-toe against the Noise. If you want to be a guest "expert" submit your flames, lames and shocker special via the link in the column footer no later than midnight central time on Tuesdays. Oh, and please, no long dissertations to justify your picks. All that's required are your player selections and projections. Good luck!
Week 7 contestant: Shawn from Kansas City, MO
Matt Schaub, Hou (vs. Ten): 23-32, 287 passing yards, 2 TDs
Earnest Graham, TB (at Det): 18 carries, 120 yards, 8 receptions, 40 yards, 2 TDs
Marion Barber, Dal (vs. Min): 11 carries, 75 yards, 4 receptions, 25 yards, 2 TDs
Antwaan Randle El, Was (vs. Ari): 8 receptions, 110 yards, TD
Arnaz Battle, SF (at NYG): 6 receptions, 75 yards, 2 TDs
Chris Baker, NYJ (at Cin): 5 receptions, 54 yards, TD
Donovan McNabb, Phi (vs. Chi): 17-33, 180 passing yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs
Ronnie Brown, Mia (vs. NE): 17 carries, 42 yards, 2 receptions, 8 yards, 0 TD
Marshawn Lynch, Buf (vs. Bal): 15 carries, 35 yards, 3 receptions, 6 yards, 0 TD
Dwayne Bowe, KC (at Oak): 4 receptions, 35 yards, 0 TD
Reggie Williams, Jac (vs. Ind): 3 receptions, 24 yards, 0 TD
Week 6 Results: Josh from Portsmouth, VA
Flames: 3-3, 50% (W – David Garrard, Nate Burleson, Wes Welker; L – Chris Brown, DeShaun Foster, Justin Pelle (Shocker Special))
Lames: 3-2, 60% (W – Kurt Warner, Rudi Johnson, Shaun Alexander; L – Steve Smith, Chad Johnson)
Noisers YTD: Flames: 8-10, 44.4%; Lames: 10-5, 66.7%, Shocker Specials: 0-3